Israeli PM advises Zelensky to accept Putin’s demands – media
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has reportedly advised Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to agree to Russia’s proposals to end the ongoing bloody conflict in his country, according to Israeli media on Friday. Top officials in Kiev and Israel have denied the reports, however.
“If I were you, I would think about the lives of my people and take the offer,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Bennett as having told Zelensky on Tuesday during a phone call, citing an unnamed senior Ukrainian official.
“Bennett told us to surrender,” the official said, according to the Post, which added that Kiev apparently had “no intention” of agreeing to President Putin's demands.
However, a top official in Bennett’s office quickly denied that any suggestion to surrender had been made, saying the Israeli PM “doesn’t intend to give Zelensky any recommendations or advice at any stage,” Axios reported.
On Saturday, top Ukrainian government adviser Mykhailo Podolyak also denied that Zelensky had been advised to surrender.
Israel, “just like other conditional intermediary countries, does not offer Ukraine to agree to any demands of the Russian federation,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter, saying this would be “impossible, for military and political reasons.”
Israel has stepped into a mediator role amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, with Bennett flying to Moscow to meet with Putin last week and speaking to Zelensky by phone. The Israeli premier was also in contact with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron following his meeting with the Russian leader.
The unnamed Ukrainian official also claimed Bennett was using mediation as an “excuse” to avoid sanctioning Russia or sending military aid to Ukraine, according to a report by Haaretz, and that Bennett should be acting as more than merely a “mailbox” between Moscow and Kiev.
“If Bennett wants to be neutral and mediate, we would like to see him appoint someone who will deal with the matter day and night to try and reach a compromise,” he reportedly said.
Russia has demanded that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country and vow never to join the US-led NATO military bloc. On Friday, Vladimir Putin claimed there had been “some positive developments” in talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, but did not elaborate.
Moscow attacked its neighbor on February 24, saying it was the only way to protect the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as its own national security interests. Kiev insists the offensive was unprovoked and unjustified, while Western nations immediately implemented a raft of harsh sanctions against Russia over the attack.